Swell Classification Guidelines
Significant: Winter - Swell 8 ft @ 14 secs or greater (11+ ft faces) for 8+ hours (greater than double overhead).
Summer - Head high or better.
Advanced: Winter - Swell and period combination capable of generating faces 1.5 times overhead to double overhead (7-10 ft)
Summer - Chest to head high.
Intermediate/Utility Class: Winter - Swell and period combination generating faces at head high to 1.5 times overhead (4-7 ft).
Summer - Waist to chest high.
Impulse/Windswell: Winter - Swell and period combination generating faces up to head high (1-4 ft) or anything with a period less than 11 secs.
Summer - up to waist high swell. Also called 'Background' swell.
On Saturday (2/7) in North and Central CA surf at top spots was estimated at 3-4 ft overhead and warbled and wonky with fog in control. Down in Santa Cruz surf was head high to 1 ft overhead and rolling all over the.cgiace and a warbled mess though winds were light. In Southern California up north surf was chest to head high and clean and lined up but a little unpredictable. But there definitely was surf. Down south waves were waist to chest high and clean and lined up. Hawaii's North Shore was getting local windswell at head high to 1 ft overhead and warbled with onshore winds. The South Shore was flat and clean. The East Shore was getting shoulder high windswell with clean conditions.
See QuikCASTs for the 5 day surf overview or read below for the detailed view.
Windswell was the name of the game on Saturday in Hawaii and California. But not for long. Low pressure continued filling the North Pacific generating mult.cgie embedded fetch area. The second in a series passed north of Hawaii on Thurs (2/5) with 24 ft seas then faded while pushing east with 20 ft seas off Central CA on Sat AM (2/7) expected to push into North CA Sunday and fade. Modest swell has already passed Hawaii with less for CA on Sunday (2/8). Another patch of 24 ft seas pushed north of Hawaii late Fri (2/6) and is expected to build to 28 ft just off Central CA on Sun PM (2/8) then moving directly into North CA Mon AM. Swell for HI on Sat afternoon (2/7) and larger energy for CA on Mon (2/9). And the broadest of them all is forecast tracking to the dateline Sun (2/8) with 32 ft seas then fading there while sinking southeast towards Hawaii into Mon PM (2/9) with seas fading from 28-30 ft. Some sizable swell to result for Hawaii likely accompanied by weather. Far smaller swell for the US West Coast.
SHORT- TERM FORECAST
Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours
Jetstream - On Saturday (2/7) the jet was pushing flat east off Southern Japan but with a small portion of energy peeling north off that flow inland over the China Sea reaching up into Siberia, stealing some energy from the main flow. Regardless 180+ kts winds were still in flight approaching the dateline then falling into a gentle trough north of Hawaii with winds fading to 140 kts, then ridging slightly and pushing straight up into Northern CA. No .cgiits were occurring over the North Pacific. There was continued support for gale development focused mainly in the trough north of Hawaii reaching towards the US West Coast. Over the next 72 hours the Hawaiian trough is to build some while tracking east eventually pushing directly over the Pacific Northwest on Mon (2/9) offering increased odds for gale development in the far East Pacific. Meanwhile winds are to be building to 190 kts on the dateline on Sun (2/8) pushing east feeding development of a new trough north of Hawaii Mon-Wed (2/11) offering good support for gale development there. And during that time the .cgiit inland over Asia is to fade, with more energy starting to build into the jet over the North Pacific. But a .cgiit is to develop just off CA at 130W on Wed (2/11) likely halting odds for precipitation there. The storm production machine appears to be getting primed. Beyond 72 hours the Hawaiian trough is to hold with 180 kt winds from just off Japan pushing over the the dateline and falling into this trough on Fri (2/13) , likely feeding more potential for gale development north of Hawaii. And by Sat (2/14) winds are to be up to 190 kts pushing off Japan, adding more fuel to feed the machine with nary a hint of a .cgiit in sight except at 135W keeping CA high and dry. Continued support for gale development focused in the Gulf of Alaska north of Hawaii. Overall a nice long positive setup remains projected.
Surface Analysis - On Saturday (2/7) swell from the second of 3 generic gales in a series is pushing towards California with the gale itself off the CA Coast tracking northeast towards the Pacific Northwest (see Fetch #2 below). The third gale in the series was north of Hawaii today with swell from it targeted to hit the Islands in the afternoon. This system is to redevelop off California generating swell for Mon (2/9) (see Fetch #3 below). And a broader system is already developing while approaching the dateline (see Dateline Gale below).
Over the next 72 hours swell from 2 small local gales and the broader dateline gale are to be the focus.
The next fetch developed on the dateline Tues PM (2/3) generating 30-35 kt west winds over a tiny area and 22 ft seas at 37N 178E. 40 kt west winds were falling southeast Wed AM (2/4) with seas building to 24 ft at 35N 177W with a better sized footprint targeting Hawaii. 35-40 kt west fetch continued in the evening over a tiny area with 26 ft seas moving to 34N 170W again targeting Hawaii well (320 degs). Fetch faded from 30-35 kts Thurs AM (2/5) just 650 nmiles north-northwest of Hawaii with 24 ft seas at 32N 164W (343 degs HI). Fetch continued fading from 35 kts in the evening with 21 ft seas at 30N 155W targeting the US West Coast (270 degs NCal, 278 degs SCal) more than Hawaii. Residual 30 kt west fetch started lifting northeast Fri AM (2/6) off the US West Coast generating 19 ft seas at 30N 145W (263 degs NCal, 274 degs SCal). 30 kt west winds continued with 20 ft seas tracking northeast positioned 600 nmiles off Central CA in the evening at 35N 135W (266 degs NCal). 30-35 kt west winds were still in.cgiay Sat AM (2/7) 600 nmiles off Central CA generating 21 ft seas at 38N 139W (279 degs NCal). a quick fade to follow in the evening. Weak swell is in the water pushing towards the US West Coast.
NCal: West windswell likely starting Sat afternoon (2/7) building into Sun AM (2/8) at 7 ft @ 12-13 secs (8.5 ft) from 265-275 degrees
SCal: Swell to arrive late Sun (2/8) afternoon at 3.1 ft @ 13 secs (4 ft) peaking overnight with residuals on Mon AM (2/9) at 3.4 ft @ 12-13 secs (4.0-4.5 ft). Swell Direction: 270 degrees
Yet a third broader fetch of 35 kt west fetch developed just northwest of Hawaii on Fri AM (2/6) with seas building from 20 ft at 33N 175W targeting Hawaii. Winds built to 35-40 kts from the northwest in the evening positioned 525 nmiles north-northwest of Hawaii producing 23 ft seas at 30N 163W. The fetch quickly passed north of the Islands Sat AM (2/7) and building in coverage with 35+ kt west winds building targeting the south end of the US West Coast. Seas were building from 25 ft at 29N 155W (260 degs NCal, 271 degs SCal). 30 kt west winds to push east in the evening with seas fading to 23 ft over a small area at 28N 145W (256 degs NCal, 266 degs SCal). Winds to build to 40 kts pushing east Sun AM (2/8) just off Southern CA with 22 ft seas at 33N 135W (261 degs NCal, 274 degs SCal). 35-40 kt west fetch to be lifting northeast and just off San Francisco in the evening with 28 ft seas at 36N 130W (265 degs NCal). Fetch is to be moving inland over North CA Mon AM (2/9) with 20 ft seas impacting Pt Reyes up to Cape Mendocino directly. Possible solid but raw swell for Southern CA up into Central CA if all goes a forecast.
Hawaii: Swell arrival forecast late Sat (2/7) afternoon building to 9.0 ft @ 13 secs (11.5 ft). residuals fading fast Sun AM (2/8) from 7 ft @ 12-13 secs (8.5 ft). Swell Direction: 320 degrees.
North CA: Raw swell building well before sunrise Monday (2/9) pushing 13 ft @ 13-14 secs (17 ft) just after sunrise, fading slowly through the day. residuals on Tues AM (2/10) at 5 ft @ 11 secs (5.5. ft). Swell Direction 255-265 degrees
Southern CA: Raw swell arriving Mon morning (2/9) building to 4.5 ft @ 13 secs (5.5 ft) late and heading up from there, peaking overnight. Swell to 7 ft @ 14 secs at exposed breaks up north (9.5 ft). Swell still 4.7 ft @ 13-14 secs (6.0-6.5 ft) early Tues AM (2/10) and slowly fading and up to 8 ft @ 13-14 secs at exposed breaks up north (10 ft). Swell Direction: 265-270 degrees
Another fetch with semi tropical origins started to develop off Japan on Fri (2/6) with 45 kt west winds over a tiny area and building some while pushing east. It was still west of the dateline on Sat AM (2/7) with 40 kt west winds over a decent sized and a small area of up to 45 kt west winds with 32 ft seas at 35N 169E (304 degs HI). In the evening fetch is to be fading to 40 kts while the gale reorganizes with seas holding at 32 ft at 34N 177E (306 degs HI). Sun AM (2/8) 40 kt west winds to be rebuilding as the gale crosses the dateline with seas 32 ft over a broader area at 37N 177W (320 degs HI, 285 degs NCal, 291 degs SCal). 40 kt northwest winds to be building in the evening over the same area with 32 ft seas at 36N 171W (324 degs HI, 281 degs NCal, 288 degs SCal). Winds to be fading from barely 40 kts from the northwest Mon AM (2/9) with 29-30 ft seas over a broad area at 35N 169W (326 degs HI, 281 degs NCal, 287 degs SCal). Winds to be fading from 30-35 kts in the evening with seas fading from 27 ft at 32N 167W (318 degs HI, 275 degs NCal, 282 degs SCal). A slow fade to follow with the remnants effectively stationary north-northwest of Hawaii into Wed PM (2/11) when seas fall below 20 ft at 27N 154W (260 degs NCal,268 degs SCal) and aimed pretty well south of CA. .
Much large but raw local swell possible for the Islands and smaller but a cleaner mix of direct and sideband swell for CA possible.
Hawaii: For.cgianning purposes based only on forecast data (not confirmed sea heights) swell arriving early Tues AM (2/10) before sunrise and building fast, peaking late morning at 10.4 ft @ 15-16 secs (16 ft Hawaiian). Swell holding Wed (2/11) fat 9.5 ft @ 14 secs (13 ft Hawaiian). Swell continuing but slowly fading into Fri AM (2/13) from 7.8 ft @ 13-14 secs (10.5 ft Hawaiian). Swell Direction: 320-326 degrees
North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
No tropical systems of interest are being monitored.
California Nearshore Forecast
On Saturday (2/7) low pressure was moving into the Pacific Northwest with a second low off the California coast generating south winds at 15+ kts from San Francisco northward. Rain was falling from Pt Conception northward with about 4 inches of snow having fallen in Tahoe at 6,500 ft and more higher up. Another low is forecast to move up to the coast on Sun (2/8) with south winds 25 kts from Monterey Bay northward. Rain for all of North and Central CA starting early with some precipitation reaching down to Santa Barbara County. Solid snow for medium elevations in Tahoe starting Sun 7 PM continuing into noon Monday (2/9) with 12-14 inches for most Tahoe resorts and up to 21 inches for Kirkwood. Wind turning west to northwest later Monday and rain chances fading everywhere through the day. High pressure rebuilds Tuesday with north winds 15-20 kts over North and Central CA focused on Pt Conception. Winds fading to light on Wednesday and light offshore Thursday. Light winds Friday and Saturday with weak high pressure in control again.
Surface Analysis - No swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height
Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future
Beyond 72 hours the large gale filling the North Pacific is to slowly fade through Thurs (2/12). But with the jet still strong and another trough building north of Hawaii, it seems likely more gale development will occur. But the models still have not picked up on it yet in lower levels of the atmosphere. regardless, there is much potential for swell development.
Note: The Madden Julian Oscillation is a periodic weather cycle that tracks east along the equator circumnavigating the globe. It is characterized in it's Inactive Phase by enhanced trade winds and dry weather over the part of the equatorial Pacific it is in control of, and in it's Active Phase by slack if not an outright reversal of trade winds and enhanced precipitation. The oscillation occurs in roughly 20-30 day cycles (Inactive for 20-30 days, then Active for 20-30 days) over any single location on the.cgianet. During the Active Phase in the Pacific the MJO tends to support the formation of stronger and longer lasting gales resulting in enhanced potential for the formation of swell producing storms. During the Inactive Phase the jet stream tends to .cgiit resulting in high pressure and less potential for swell producing storm development. The paragraphs below analyze the state of the MJO in the Pacific and provide forecasts for MJO activity (which directly relate to the potential for swell production).
(1st paragraph in each section is new/recent data. 2nd paragraph where present is analysis data and is updated only as required).
Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) On Saturday (2/7) the daily SOI was falling at -7.50. The 30 day average was falling from -10.05 and the 90 day average was rising slightly at -7.28. The near term trend based on the 30 day average was indicative of a modest Active Phase of the MJO. The longer term pattern was indicative of a steady-state Active Phase of the MJO with the 90 day average near -8 since 10/20 (3.5 months). A weak trough was over Tahiti with building high pressure over Darwin, though higher pressure is to build over Tahiti midweek into (2/14) likely causing the SOI to move somewhat higher. The SOI tends to be a lagging indicator.
Current equatorial surface wind analysis indicated strong westerly wind anomalies continued over the Maritime Continent fading to weak on the dateline and turning neutral south of Hawaii. Neutral anomalies continued from there to the Galapagos. Down at the surface the TOA array indicated strong west anomalies in the heart of the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. A solid Westerly Wind Burst (WWB) continued in.cgiay and has been blowing since 1/15. This is a significant event. A week from now (2/15) modest west anomalies are to continue over the Maritime Continent fading to neutral on the dateline. Mostly neutral anomalies are forecast from there to a point south of Hawaii, and on to the Galapagos. This suggests the Active Phase is to continue holding over the West Pacific to the dateline.
See our new Kelvin Wave Generation Area monitoring model here .
The longer range Outgoing Longwave Radiation (OLR) models (dynamic and statistical) run on 2/6 are in sync initially. They both suggest a modest Active Phase of the MJO was holding on the dateline. Beyond the models diverge with the Statistic model depicting the Active Phase moving east over the next 15 days and fading some south of Hawaii while the Inactive Phase of the MJO moves from the Indian Ocean almost making headway into the West Pacific. The Dynamic model has the Active Phase holding it's ground and strength in the West Pacific maybe making it to the dateline and fading slightly 15 days out, with the Inactive Phase still contained in the Indian Ocean. The ultra long range upper level model run on 2/7 depicts a modest Active Phase exiting over the East Pacific with a moderate Inactive Phase starting to develop in the West Pacific and easing into Central America on 3/5 while a new weak Active Phase takes over the West Pacific pushing east into 3/19. The upper level model tends to be a leading indicator, with surface level anomalies lagging behind 1 week or more.
Surface Water Temps: The more warm water in the equatorial East Pacific means more storm production in the North Pacific during winter months (roughly speaking). Cold water in that area has a dampening effect. Regardless of what the atmospheric models and surface winds suggest, actual water temperatures are a ground-truth indicator of what is occurring in the ocean. As of the most recent low res imagery (2/5) a weak warm water/El Nino like regime remains in control of the equatorial Central and West Pacific but with pockets of slightly cooler water depicted off Central America. TAO data suggests neutral to negative anomalies (-1.0 degs C) are covering a region from 125W to Ecuador (actually loosing ground and retreating from 130W as of 2/5), with +0.5-1.0 deg anomalies holding from 125W into the West Pacific with a pocket of +1.0 deg anomalies in the Kelvin Wave Generation Area. The CDAS NINO 3.4 Index suggest water temps holding at +0.8, previously peaking late Nov at about +1.0 then falling to 0.0 in early January. The thought is the Upwelling Kelvin Wave Phase briefly had an impact on water temps, but is now loosing ground with temps slowly on the increase.
Subsurface Waters Temps on the equator are now warming. As of 2/7 a +1.0 C anomaly flow was rebuilding control under the equatorial Pacific from 150 meters up. And a new pocket of +2 deg anomalies with a core at +3 degrees was building in coverage under the dateline, suggestive of a new Kelvin Wave and likely associated with the extended WWB occurring at the surface there. More warming is expected. Satellite data from 2/2 depicts 0-+5 cm anomalies over most of the West and Central equatorial Pacific with a core at +5 cm just east of the dateline indicative of an open pipe with an embedded Kelvin Wave, but neutral anomalies from 120W eastward. The latest chart of upper Ocean Heat Content (2/2) indicates +1.0-1.5 deg anomalies are continuing to expand between 160E-135W with a core at +1.0-1.5 degs from 170E-160W, suggestive that another Kelvin Wave is in flight. Theoretically the peak of what was though to be a developing El Nino occurred (12/21) with no more Kelvin Wave development expected beyond if this was to be a single year event. But if this is a true multiyear Midoki El Nino event, then it would not be unexpected to see another Kelvin Wave develop in the Jan-Feb 2015 timeframe (as appears to be the case). See current Upper Oceanic Heat Content chart here.
Pacific Counter Current data as of 1/26 was not encouraging. The current is pushing moderately west to east over a small area of the far West Pacific, but mainly east to west over the rest of the equatorial Pacific. Anomaly wise - west anomalies were just on the equator over the West Pacific then north of the equator in pockets to 135W. Pockets of moderate east anomalies were just south of the equator from the Galapagos to almost the dateline. This data continues to suggest a mixed pattern and barely supportive of warm water transport to the east. But we suspect that might be attributable tot he current upwelling Kelvin Wave Phase in flight now.
Projections from the monthly CFSv2 model run 2/7 for the Nino 3.4 region have stabilized. It suggests water temps are at +0.7 deg C and are to hold through May then falling just slightly to +0.6 degs C by June. From there temps hold at +0.6-0.8 degs into Oct 2015. This suggests that perhaps we are moving towards a multi-year steady state Midoki event. See the chart based version here - link.
Analysis: Mult.cgie downwelling Kelvin Waves generated by suppressed trades and occasional Westerly Wind Bursts occurring late 2013 though 2014 in the West Pacific. Those Kelvin Waves warmed waters over the Eastern equatorial Pacific, but not sufficiently to declare an official El Nino. Still some degree of teleconnection or feedback loop between the ocean and the atmosphere is in.cgiay. The focus now becomes whether this warming and resulting teleconnection will persist into 2015 and transition into a multi-year event, or fade in the March-June 2015 Spring Unpredictability Barrier. At this time we're assuming the situation will move to a multiyear, Midoki event (the better of all options).
We remain in a neutral ENSO atmospheric pattern, with no El Nino in.cgiay per NOAA. But we continue monitoring Westerly Wind Bursts and Kelvin Wave development, suggestive of continued warming East Pacific equatorial waters for the 2015 (meaning enhanced support for the jetstream and storm development in Fall/Winter 2015-2016).
See imagery in the ENSO Powertool and more details in the El Nino Update Updated 12/4/13
Beyond 72 hours no swell producing fetch of interest is forecast.
Details to follow...
External Reference Material: El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO), Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), Kelvin Wave
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Surf Height-Swell Height Correlation Table